I’ve long had a passion for exploring public markets whenever I’m traveling. If you want to find knives in an exotic location, market stalls are almost always the best place to start. You are much more likely to discover what the locals actually use and at prices geared to the local economy rather than “rich Americans.” In May of 2009 I set off on an adventure I’ve long wanted to make, a weeklong cooking school in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Of course, my secondary mission was to explore every public market I could find along the way.
My first stop in Thailand was Bangkok, and given I had a Saturday to kill before heading for Chiang Mai, I caught a cab to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. I had been warned about how large this market was but not how difficult it is to keep from getting lost in its endless miles of narrow aisles and thousands of vendor stalls. The tabletop sellers around the outside edges of the market were especially interesting. Though I can’t speak for their age or quality, seemingly desirable Indonesian kris were common. Probably of more interest to U.S. military knife collectors was the fact that WW-II vintage Western G-46-8 sheath knives were as frequent as USMC fighting/utilities. I assume the U.S. must have supplied the Thai military with surplus Westerns at some time in the distant past.
There was also a small “walking street market” with a meat and fish vendor pavilion attached a short distance from my Bangkok hotel. It was a treat to watch one of the ladies there filet fish with a large Chinese cleaver. A couple of men from what, I assume, was a local restaurant bought something like 30 or 40 pounds of mixed species filets. The lady only spent a minute or two on each fish but the filets looked as good as anything I do with my flexible, narrow-bladed western filet knife.
Moving To Chiang Mai
Like many countries with public markets, Chiang Mai’s turned out to be divided into two general categories, day and night businesses. The AM vendors tend to be the people that sell the produce, meat, fish, hardware and other essentials needed for everyday life. Night market is more of a recreational activity consisting of fast food, t-shirts, jewelry, music CDs, Rolex knockoffs, and, of course, knives.
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by Sebastian Lucke / Jan 1, 2010